CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE THE 2014 SEASON WAS A CHALLENGING ONE FOR OUR BELOVED RAIDERS HOWEVER THE BOARD WHOLEHEARTEDLY BELIEVES THAT WE ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK TO A BIGGER AND BETTER GREEN MACHINE IN 2015. Our coach, Ricky Stuart, aided and abetted by Dean Pay, Mick Crawley and their support staff, has set in train the foundations of a transformation in the club’s culture. That’s very hard work, but it is also a pre-requisite to the dawn of a new and exciting era for the Canberra Raiders. There’s some wonderful young talent on display in our team, with the likes of Jarrod Croker, Edrick Lee, Josh Papalii, Paul Vaughan and Jack Wighton demonstrating their claims to be representative players as they benefit from our cultural renewal.
Dr Allan Hawke
Once again, 2014 saw the club unearth some exciting prospects, with Kurt Baptiste, Shannon Boyd, Mitch Cornish, Brenko Lee, Kyle O’Donnell, Jordan Rapana and Jeremy Hawkins all making their NRL debuts and gaining valuable experience as they strive to cement a place in the top team.
Our junior development programs under Dave Hamilton’s leadership continue to be among the best in the competition and the results were there to see with the Harold Matthews (Under 16’s) and SG Ball (Under 18’s) teams making the finals last year. We depend on continued success in these grades, allied with a stronger retention program. We are hopeful that the NRL recognise our efforts and start to reward Clubs who develop juniors in a more tangible way. Fostering strong relationships with our corporate partners and sponsors and retaining their support gives us the wherewithal necessary to become competitive on the park.
In conjunction with the emergence of the aforementioned players, our recruitment efforts have seen several highly talented additions to the Raiders 2015 playing squad.
Huawei’s decision to extend their deal as our Major Sponsor into the 2015 season is particularly encouraging. Huawei have stood by us since their first commitment as a sponsor for a major sporting team in 2012 and we esteem their loyal and extensive contribution. We still hope to host a game in China and use our strong partnership to make this happen.
The Raiders are pleased to welcome the likes of Blake Austin, Josh Hodgson, Isosia Soliola, Sisa Waqa and Sam Williams to the club for the upcoming season and look forward to seeing their careers continue to flourish under the famous lime green jersey.
We acknowledge and thank our other major corporate partners - Defence Housing Australia, Local Liquor, Abode Hotels, ACTTAB, Canberra Milk, Carlton United Breweries and Coca-Cola, along with the valued assistance from the ACT Government and the Raiders Trading Group.
The quintet will add skill, expertise and toughness to crucial positions within the team as well as significantly bolstering the depth of an already impressive young squad.
To our loyal members and supporters, we rely on and thank you for turning up week in week out to show your unconditional support and as we work towards our goal of 10,000 club members.
The experience of players such Soliola and Waqa, in addition to the likes of David Shillington, Dane Tilse and Shaun Fensom, will assist in guiding the next generation of Raiders stars into the first grade arena and continuing our quest for premiership glory.
I look forward to seeing you all in 2015. We are Raiders! Allan Hawke Chairman Canberra Raiders
recruits MEET THE
SISA WAQA GROWING UP ON THE ISLAND OF SUVA IN HIS NATIVE FIJI, SISA WAQA COULD ONLY DREAM OF DONNING THE FAMOUS LIME GREEN JERSEY OF THE RAIDERS IN THE NRL JUST LIKE HIS IDOL NOA NADRUKU. But now, after years of hard work and four outstanding seasons with the Melbourne Storm, Waqa has the opportunity to live out one of his childhood fantasies. As a youngster during the halcyon days of the Raiders, Waqa idolised the likes of Daley, Meninga and Stuart, but more than anybody, it was the flying Fijian Nadruku that stole his affection. Waqa would spend his days on playing fields in Fiji mimicking Nadruku’s every step, swerve and long range try in the bold quest to one day emulate his breathtaking feats. “Noa Nadruku was one of my idols growing up,” Waqa revealed. “He was one of Fiji’s greatest rugby league players and one of the Raiders greatest ever wingers. “Canberra was one of my favourite teams when I was kid back home in Fiji. I really looked up to the likes of Ricky Stuart, Laurie Daley and Mal Meninga but especially Noa Nadruku. To be here now is an exciting time for myself and for my family.
national side that was invited to play in the 1992 Rugby League World Seven’s tournament and they beat Canberra in their first game. Dad actually scored the winning try. I think Ricky Stuart still remembers that game. We’ve still got the tape back home and we watch it every now and then.” In conjunction with wishing his father all the best of luck before he departed for the tournament, a five year old Sisa Waqa asked his father for just one thing. “Before my dad came out to Australia to play local club footy and in the sevens tournament, the one thing that I asked him for was to bring me back a Canberra Raiders jersey when he came home,” Waqa said with a smile on his face. “He ended up bringing me a Raiders jersey when he came back to Fiji and I kept it for a lot of years; it was very cool for me to have that jersey and I remember wearing it and pretending that I was like Noa.”
“It’s an absolute dream come true to be completely honest and I really want to continue the legacy that Noa has left here at the club.”
Fast forward to 2015 and Waqa will now have the opportunity to once again don the Raiders jersey and attempt to emulate the great feats of Nadruku.
Interestingly, although Waqa has never met Nadruku, his father Eddie played with the man who netted 73 tries in 92 games for the Green Machine during the 1990’s.
“Running out onto GIO Stadium in the Raiders jersey is something that I’ve been dreaming about. Whether it is a trial game or in the Nines, it will be a massive thing for me to pull on that famous green jumper for the first time.
“Noa played with my Dad back in Fiji in rugby union and rugby league,” Waqa said. “There was a Fijian
RAIDER • ISSUE 1 • DEC 2014
“It will be a dream come true for me really.”
Sisa is wearing the new grey marle â€˜CRâ€™ Raiders hoody from ISC Sport. Available to order at RaidersShop.com.au or in-store at Jerseys Megastore. Mens $59 Ladies $49
recruits JOSH HODGSON MEET THE
AFTER SHOWCASING HIS WARES AGAINST THE BEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD AT THE RECENT FOUR NATIONS TOURNAMENT, JOSH HODGSON IS STEELING HIMSELF TO TEST HIS ABILITY IN THE TOUGHEST RUGBY LEAGUE COMPETITION IN THE WORLD, THE NRL. Born and bred in Hull, Hodgson rose to become captain of his local side, the Hull Kingston Rovers after breaking into the top grade in 2010.
“I know the club missed out on the semi-finals this year and returning to finals football will be one of our goals in 2015.”
In his five years at the club, the rugged hooker established himself as one of the side’s most integral members scoring 37 tries in his 125 appearances.
Whilst Hodgson will head into 2015 in a confident frame of mind after picking up Hull KR’s Player of the Year Award and breaking into the national side, he is under no illusions that he will be a walk up start to the Raiders number nine jersey.
Despite his standing at the club, Hodgson has chosen to leave the security at Hull KR and the English Super League altogether to test himself in the NRL. “I loved my time at Hull KR,” Hodgson said. “They helped me progress a lot as a player and as a person in my five years there but the NRL is said to be the best league in the world and it’s always something I said I would do if the opportunity came along. “When the opportunity came along at the Raiders I knew deep down that I wanted to make it happen, although it was still a tough decision to leave Hull KR, especially being the side’s Captain. “I’m very happy with my decision though and I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.” Hodgson agreed to terms with the Raiders due to the club’s rich history and his desire to be a part of Ricky Stuart’s rebuilding plans. “Canberra is a big club with a lot of history behind it and I am really looking forward to being a part of Ricky’s team for next season and a part of the rebuilding process to restore the club to where it should be,” Hodgson enthused. “Ricky spoke to me about the club and what they are about and it is something I feel I will adapt well into.
RAIDER • ISSUE 1 • DEC 2014
He candidly admits that the NRL is the best rugby league competition in the world and is determined to earn his stripes throughout the pre-season and during the trials, in order to win over his new coach, team mates and club members. “It was a proud moment to pick up both the Player of the Year Award and Player’s Player awards at the Rovers and to have represented England in the recent Four Nations tournament,” Hodgson said reflectively. “Whilst that gives me some confidence, at the same time it’s a fresh start at Canberra and a blank canvass so to speak. I know that I have to work hard and make a good impression. “It’s good to see English blokes going over and making a success of themselves. Burgess and Graham were both top players in the Super League so hopefully I can work hard and do the same as them in the NRL. “I have watched quite a few NRL games since I signed and I’m excited about the talented youngsters coming through the ranks at the Raiders. There’s plenty of competition for spots but I didn’t come over here to fail. “I want to make the club proud.”
Josh is wearing the 2015 Raiders training singlet from ISC Sport. Available to order at RaidersShop.com.au or in-store at Jerseys Megastore. Adults $59
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Club members receive a 10% discount on all clothing.
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recruits MEET THE
SAM WILLIAMS “I FEEL LUCKY TO COME HOME AND HAVE THE CHANCE TO RE-ESTABLISH MYSELF AT THE CLUB. I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE HAD A GAME AGAINST THE BOYS LAST YEAR AND WON BUT WE DIDN’T HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY.” Home Sweet Home
Learning from Ricky Stuart
The Canberra Raiders have always been home for me and I’m very happy to be back and be a part of the 2015 squad. I grew up supporting the Raiders and to make my debut in the famous lime green jersey was a dream come true. It’s definitely been an interesting 12 months being away from the club it couldn’t have worked out any better.
Obviously being a halfback I can’t wait to start working with Ricky. He’s the best halfback that the Raiders have had and one of the best of all time so the opportunity to work underneath him is one that excites me.
I certainly wouldn’t change the last 12 months because I’ve had a lot of opportunities to travel the world and have met some different people but I’m thrilled to be back and be a part of this club again.
I’ve heard lots of good things from the players and staff about what Ricky has brought to the club and the changes that have been made. I’m excited to be a part of a squad that’s growing and I think that we’re going to have a really good year in 2015.
When I got the call to come back to the Raiders I’d only been in France for a few weeks but I’ve always said to the Raiders management that I’d like to come back one day. I was thankful to the Catalans for giving me an opportunity to play over there, but after finishing the year off in France I never had to think much about returning to the Raiders. I’ve come through the juniors here, I’m passionate about the area and basically, the club is home to me.
Experience from 2014 Rugby League can be a funny game sometimes; it can bring you up but then knock you back down quickly so you’ve got to ride the highs and the lows. I’m not the only player to experience those things but you’ve just got to keep on moving forward and trying to improve. You learn a lot about yourself and your character in the dark times and I enjoyed my experiences at both clubs last year even though there were some bad times along the way. Moving on is not a decision I regret. I had the chance to make new friends at St George and play semi-finals football in the English Super League with the Catalans. I’m glad to be back here though and I want to do everything I can to ensure that I’m a part of this team for many years to come.
Competition for spots The club has signed Blake Austin and Mitch Cornish made his debut last year so I’m not under the impression that I’ll be a walk up start to the number seven jersey. I’m a fairly competitive person as it is so the competition for spots in the halves is something that will bring out the best in me. It doesn’t matter what NRL club you’re at, nobody is going to just hand you a jersey, you have to work hard for it and that’s what I’m motivated to do. Ricky has spoken about having depth in the squad to ensure that we’re all pushing each other and on the way up and that’s really exciting to be a part of.
Sam is wearing the 2015 Raiders tech hoody from ISC Sport. Available to order at RaidersShop.com.au or in-store at Jerseys Megastore. Mens $99 Ladies $89 Kids $69
recruits MEET THE
IOSIA SOLIOLA NO MATTER WHAT CODE OF SPORT YOU FOLLOW, THE VERY SUCCESSFUL TEAMS ARE BUILT ON THE BACK OF AN EFFECTIVE TEAM CULTURE. Within such successful team cultures are individuals that drive a the team’s culture or even enhance it upon their arrival. Iosia Soliola is one of these individuals. A culture creator if you will. Somebody who will enhance the side’s culture, whilst also honouring the already proud history of the club. “Sia brings a lot of strengths to our roster that will assist in us continuing to build a successful culture here at the club,” Ricky Stuart said. “He has a lot of experience and possesses a winning personality that lifts the culture wherever he goes. “Sia has a quiet style of leadership whereby he tends to lead by example, but he also has a very good sense of humour which creates a good, positive mood within the team. He is definitely a role model for our younger players and is a real asset to the club.” Stuart is glowing in his praise of Soliola and the esteem in which the new Raiders recruit holds his coach is clearly reciprocated. It was after all Stuart who hand-picked Soliola to make his debut for the Roosters in 2005 at just 18 years of age. “The major reason in joining the Raiders was my aﬃliation with Ricky,” Soliola said. “I’ll be forever thankful for him giving me the opportunity to make my debut all those years ago and I’m thankful to him again for the opportunity to join the Raiders and be a part of the club’s resurgence. “Ricky has always been someone that I’ve looked up to, ever since I first started playing. He’s taught me a lot about Rugby League and I’ve based my game around what he’s taught me.
RAIDER • ISSUE 1 • DEC 2014
“I’ve got nothing but praise for Stick!” The task assigned to Soliola by Stuart is an entirely different one to the instructions given to him when he made his debut 10 years ago. In the decade since he debuted as a raw-boned, shy, yet eye-catchingly talented youngster, Soliola has developed into an outstanding leader and a deeply respected figure in international rugby league. The 28 year old scored a pivotal try in St Helen’s 2014 Grand Final victory and captained Samoa at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup with distinction. “I have come a long way since 2005 and that is something that I am proud of,” Soliola said. “Ricky wants me to take on more of a leadership role with the club next year and help guide through the club’s talented young players. “Some of our players need a bit of guidance and I’ve had a lot of experience both in the NRL, in England and at international level so hopefully I can help them out wherever possible. I believe we are in is a similar situation to the one I was at with St Helens when I first arrived and we ended up rising to great success. “I looked at the team last year and they were actually quite an exciting team even though the results didn’t go their way throughout the season. Towards the back end though you could see the side had improved and were looking like a team that could start fighting for premierships in the future. “I feel like this is really a time where we can create a culture within ourselves and begin a new and successful era for the Canberra Raiders.”
Iosia is wearing the 2015 Raiders training tee and shorts from ISC Sport. Available to order at RaidersShop.com.au or in-store at Jerseys Megastore. Tee – Adults $69 Shorts – Adults $59
recruits MEET THE
BLAKE AUSTIN AS A BUDDING RUGBY LEAGUE STAR GROWING UP IN PENRITH, ALL BLAKE AUSTIN WANTED TO DO WAS WEAR THE JERSEY NUMBER OF HIS FAVOURITE POSITION AS HE ASCENDED THROUGH RANKS OF THE GAME’S HIGHEST LEVELS. That jersey number was six, and his position five-eighth. Alas, due to his tremendous versatility and a level of confidence which was still developing, Austin was chopped and changed from position to position. All that has come to a sharp halt though, as Austin now has the strength of character to declare that he “wants the number six jersey.” “As a youngster I was always a five-eighth, but I was used as a hooker for Harold Matthews and at lock in SG Ball and Under 20’s,” Austin said. “The challenge for me has always been about backing myself to be a number six; for too long I umm’d and ahh’d about cementing myself there but I see myself as a five-eighth and I’m ready to admit that that is where I want to play.”
“There is a great opportunity for Blake here at the club in the position that he wants to play,” Stuart said. “He has impressed me so far; he’s willing to compete and when you’re willing to compete you’re always going to be in the fight and that’s what I like about him. “He is only young so we can mould him into the player that we want him to be but already he’s brought a lot of energy and competitiveness to our training sessions. He’s always very early to each session and has done a lot of extras afterwards. His attitude has begun to rub off onto others.” Stuart’s long-time halves partner and the greatest player to ever don the number six jersey for the Raiders, the mercurial Laurie Daley, has wholeheartedly endorsed the signing of Austin.
Austin has declared his intentions without any hint of arrogance, but more of a fiercely determined individual who is driven to succeed for himself and his young family.
“It will be a great boost for the Raiders to have someone of Austin’s ability at the club,” Daley said. “He takes on the line, has a good running game and always wants the footy.”
The father of two is under no illusions that he will be granted a walk up start to the number six jersey and is expecting no favours from Ricky Stuart and the rest of the coaching staff.
Last year was undoubtedly Austin’s finest season of first grade since his debut for Penrith in 2011, however the talented pivot plans on taking his game to a new level in 2015 as the Raiders embark on what he describes as “something special.”
“I’m not coming here expecting to be handed the number six jersey, I want to earn it,” Austin said. “I plan on playing five-eighth and I will endeavour to work as hard as I can to ensure that I do. “There are no favours handed out in the NRL so I want to work as hard as I can to make sure that Ricky thinks I’m the best man for the job and that my new team mates respect his decision.” Given Austin is just 23 years old, Stuart has conveyed to his new recruit that the opportunity is there to make the position his for as long as he wants it.
“I came a long way as a five-eighth last year but I’ve still got plenty to learn and I’m motivated to work hard and learn all I can from Ricky,” Austin said. “The coaching staff has been really upbeat and positive and they have clear goals on where they want the team to be. Everything is laid out for us and we know what we have to do so it’s up to us to dig in and work hard for each other and for our Members, sponsors and fans. “We’re all confident in the squad that we’ve got here and that was one of the reasons why I was so happy to come here. There are great signs ahead for the Raiders and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Blake is wearing the 2015 Raiders basketball singlet from ISC Sport. Available to order at RaidersShop.com.au or in-store at Jerseys Megastore. Adults $79 Kids $69
DICK SMITH NRL
AUCKLAND NINES Mitch is wearing the 2015 Raiders Auckland Nines jersey from ISC Sport. Available to order at RaidersShop.com.au or in-store at Jerseys Megastore. Adults $159 Kids $129
LAST YEAR’S INAUGURAL DICK SMITH AUCKLAND NINES PROVED TO BE ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE RUGBY LEAGUE CALENDAR AND A BRILLIANTLY ENTERTAINING AND COLOURFUL WAY TO KICK OFF THE SEASON. Featuring a prize pool of over $2 million and all 16 sides of the NRL, the 2015 Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines is sure to be another spectacular event. With just nine players per side and nine minute halves chocked full of high-octane action, the pace and action of this exciting format of the game is guaranteed to be nothing short of thrilling viewing. The Raiders will wear their specially developed ‘Green Machine’ jersey in the tournament as pictured above. They feature in the Hunua Pool, playing 3 preliminary games against the Tigers, Titans and Warriors. If you want to be there LIVE then book your travel package at sportsnetholidays.com/nrl95, and quote the Raiders club code ‘RAIDERSNINES’ to receive a free Nines gift!
RAIDER • ISSUE 1 • DEC 2014
raiders return to seiffert THE CANBERRA RAIDERS NRL SQUAD RETURN TO THEIR SPIRITUAL HOME OF SEIFFERT OVAL FOR THEIR FINAL OFFICIAL NRL PRE-SEASON TRIAL MATCH AGAINST THE NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS ON SATURDAY 21 FEBRUARY 2015, AHEAD OF THE TELSTRA PREMIERSHIP KICK-OFF IN EARLY MARCH. Seiffert Oval was the club’s home ground from their inaugural year in 1982 right through to 1989, when the Club claimed their first premiership title, before moving to Bruce Stadium in 1990 (now known as GIO Stadium).
“We have had some very strong interest in this trial match already and I strongly encourage anyone interested in attending the match to grab your ticket before it’s too late,” Queanbeyan Mayor, Cr Tim Overall said.
Ticket prices for the trial match are:
Foundation players like David Grant, Steve O’Callaghan and Jay Hoffman proudly called Seiffert Oval home, while Club legends including Mal Meninga, Laurie Daley and Bradley Clyde just to name also graced the hallowed turf of this venue when they regularly delighted attending fans in the late 80’s.
“The Raiders’ return to Seiffert Oval will be a great event for the Queanbeyan community and I am particularly looking forward to seeing Seiffert Oval buzzing with 10,000 spectators.”
• Adults – $10 pre-purchase
Under the guidance of the Queanbeyan City Council, the ground is currently undergoing a major upgrade of facilities which will be completed just in time for what is sure to be a memorable event in the New Year. Tickets are already on sale for the 2015 Oﬃcial Trial match with pre-purchase adult tickets available for just $10 each and children’s tickets only $5.
• Queanbeyan City Council’s Customer Service Centre • Raiders Gungahlin • Raiders Belconnen • Mawson Club • Queanbeyan Kangaroos Leagues Club • Jerseys Megastore, Fyshwick • Raiders HQ, Bruce
• Adults – $15 at the gate Queanbeyan Council proud
Official NRL 2015 Trial Match
Buy a Big Mac get one FREE ®
Raiders V Knights
Saturday 21 February 2015 Seiffert Oval, Gates Open at 4.00pm Queanbeyan NSW • Prelimin Main game kick-off atary match at 4.30pm 6.30pm ADULT $10 pre-purchase or $15* at the gate (*NRL Club Members
$10 at the gate)
• Raiders Weston
• NRL club members – $10 pre-purchase and at the gate
TICKET NOT VALID WITHO UT
• Queanbeyan Leagues Club
OUT TICKET NOT VALID WITH
Organisers are expecting the 10,000 tickets available to be snapped up very quickly.
Fans can acquire tickets for the match from any of the below listed sales venues:
• Children – $5 pre-purchase and at the gate
Queanbeyan Council proud
Official NRL 2015 Trial Match
Knights Raiders V February 2015
Saturday 21 an NSW Seiffert Oval, Queanbey 4.30pm • Preliminary match at Gates Open at 4.00pme kick-off at 6.30pm Main gam at the gate D $5 pre-purchase and
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Issue number one of the 2015 Raider magazine, focusing on the new recruits ahead of the season.